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Win-Paired Cues Modulate the Effect of Dopamine Neuron Sensitization on Decision Making and Cocaine Self-administration: Divergent Effects Across Sex.

Authors
  • Hynes, Tristan J1
  • Chernoff, Chloe S2
  • Hrelja, Kelly M2
  • Tse, Maric T L2
  • Avramidis, Dimitrios K2
  • Lysenko-Martin, Melanie R2
  • Calderhead, Lucas2
  • Kaur, Sukhbir2
  • Floresco, Stan B2
  • Winstanley, Catharine A3
  • 1 Department of Psychology, Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Electronic address: [email protected]. , (Canada)
  • 2 Department of Psychology, Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. , (Canada)
  • 3 Department of Psychology, Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Electronic address: [email protected]. , (Canada)
Type
Published Article
Publication Date
Feb 01, 2024
Volume
95
Issue
3
Pages
220–230
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2023.08.021
PMID: 37673411
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Both psychostimulant use and engagement with probabilistic schedules of reward sensitize the mesocorticolimbic dopamine (DA) system. Such behaviors may act synergistically to explain the high comorbidity between stimulant use and gambling disorder. The salient audiovisual stimuli of modern electronic gambling may exacerbate the situation. To probe these interactions, we sensitized ventral tegmental area DA neurons via chronic chemogenetic stimulation while rats (n = 134) learned a rat gambling task in the presence or absence of casino-like cues. The same rats then learned to self-administer cocaine. In a separate cohort (n = 25), we confirmed that our chemogenetic methods sensitized the locomotor response to cocaine and potentiated phasic excitability of ventral tegmental area DA neurons through in vivo electrophysiological recordings. In the absence of cues, sensitization promoted risk taking in both sexes. When rewards were cued, sensitization expedited the development of a risk-preferring phenotype in males while attenuating cue-induced risk taking in females. While these results provide further confirmation that ventral tegmental area DA neurons critically modulate risky decision making, they also reveal stark sex differences in the decisional impact that dopaminergic signals exert when winning outcomes are cued. As previously observed, risky decision making on the cued rat gambling task increased as both males and females learned to self-administer cocaine. The combination of DA sensitization and win-paired cues while gambling led to significantly greater cocaine taking, but these rats did not show any increase in risky choice as a result. Therefore, cocaine and heavily cued gambles may partially substitute for each other once the DA system has been rendered labile through sensitization, thereby compounding addiction risk across modalities. Copyright © 2023 Society of Biological Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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